Tech City Spotlight: Vienna
Thanks to its alpine scenery, flash ski resorts and imperial grandeur, Austria has long been a hot tourist destination, but today the country is undergoing an entrepreneurial renaissance and is becoming a hotspot for entrepreneurs too. Vienna in particular is a creative and vibrant city full of young people, and right now the conditions are perfect for a startup hub to form and grow.
The first factor worth noting is Austria’s geographical location. It’s located in the heart of Europe, with Germany to the North and tech savvy Netherlands beyond that, and almost every European capital is either in driving distance or less than a two hour flight away. There’s also a unique mix of Western and Eastern European cultures here which means it’s an ideal spot to build a company which can reach the whole European continent.
Roughly 10% of the population in Vienna are students – 190,000 from 20 different universities, many of which are research leaders in their fields. Universities and schools encourage students to pursue startup projects early on, with many lectures at university focusing on entrepreneurism. There are many events and guest lectures from successful founders to inspire and encourage young graduates to take the jump.
On top of the constant stream of tech talent, there are generous government subsidies available and mentorship from some of Austria’s hottest entrepreneurial talent. The city’s startup community is known to be collaborative and people are willing to share their experiences and knowledge. Costs of development are low, there’s easy access to investment and there are affordable co-working spaces that facilitate such collaboration.
Perhaps most importantly Vienna has won the title for the most livable city in the world, which comes down to its stellar transportation, public services, political and economic issues, and health and education systems. Famous for homely coffee shops, confections and cosy wine bars, there’s a certain Old World charm here. There’s an abundance of museums, galleries and palaces of international reputation and of course skiing and walking close by.
Vienna is emerging as a solid startup hub, especially in the fields of information technology, media and creative industries. Not a day goes by here without an event or networking session for founders and future founders. Entrepreneurs have easy access to support – financial, material and knowledge so we can expect to see some serious startups coming out of the city and following in the footsteps of Runtastic, a fitness app which was recently acquired by Adidas for $240 million.
Where to live:
Innere Stadt (District 1) is the city’s most exclusive and expensive area to live in. It’s cosmopolitan and the Golden Quarter has some particularly good luxury shopping. The architectural grandeur means this part of the city is UNESCO listed. Leopoldstadt (district 2) is slightly cheaper but still central. It’s made up of narrow streets, coffee bars and organic food shops, and still has its fair share of historic buildings. Gumpendorferstraße and Naschmarkt attract young crowds who come for the good food, lively atmosphere and quirky galleries. Spittelberg is like a village in the centre of the city. It’s in close vicinity to the Museums Quarter too. Mariahilf and Neubau are where the hipsters have settled, perfect area for art fans and people watchers thanks to the trendy lifestyle boutiques and pop up venues. Prate and Praterstern are two up and coming areas where you can find farmers markets, parks, electronic clubs and the famous amusement Prater.
Where to eat:
Steirereck im Stadtpark sits in the 20 best restaurants in the world and the dishes served are so visually appealing they could be framed as art works. It is pricey, so best saved for a special occasion. For more casual dining check out Motto am Fluss situated by Danube Canal for a weekly changing menu and trendy crowd. Glacis Beisl serves up local cuisine in an ambient little bistro and there’s great garden for relaxed alfresco dining. The food is classic yet creative representing Vienna both old and new. Unassuming Walter Bauer is nestled in one of Vienna’s quiet, curving lanes. It’s a family run restaurant that’s earned itself a Michelin star for its consistently excellent and inventive traditional dishes. You’ll get a warm welcome here, outstanding service and some of the best Austrian wines. With over 100 stalls Naschmarkt is the biggest food market where you’ll find dishes from every corner of the world.
Where to drink:
In good weather kick back at Tel Aviv Beach, situated by Danube Canal. Enjoy oriental delicacies and colourful cocktails, accompanied by well-known DJs. For views there nowhere better than the plush Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom bar where the painted mural ceiling blends with the sky through the floor to ceiling windows, it’s really something special! To get to know Austrian wines visit WEIN & CO where you’ll be able to sample plenty.
Where to party:
To continue the party try Pratersauna. This is Vienna’s most famous electronic club situated in a formal brothel. It’s labyrinthine like layout, sauna and outside pool area make it an interesting venue. Flex has been a real Viennese institution since the 90s bringing in some of the world’s top DJs on a weekly basis, as well as new underground talent. Grelle Forelle is an underground club which, unlike many of the Vienna clubs, has no guestlist policy. Come here for techno music.
What to do:
Schönbrunn Palace is a must see – you can look around inside and out (the grounds are complete with a swimming pool and zoo!). Gansehaufel has open air pools and a beach where you can paddle board, and is a great place to spend a day in the sun. There are also many beautiful parks to wander through or picnic in – Volksgarten, Stadt Park, Donau Park. Old Danube is good to cycle along and there are plenty of nice restaurants and bars to stop off at. Demel is a really nice Viennese cafe where you can try traditional cakes as well as see how they are made. And during the festive season Rathaus Christmas Market is by far the best!